Dogs don’t cool down the same way we do, they use evaporative cooling through panting, and also perspire a little through the sweat glands in their feet. This means they can suffer from heat stroke much quicker than humans, who sweat through most of their body. Here are some tips to help keep your dog safe and happy over the summertime heat waves.
- Ways to check for dehydration-
With your hand, gently wrinkle the skin on the back of their neck above their shoulder blades and then let go. Much like you would pinch the skin on the back of a human hand. If it bounces back quickly, they are well hydrated; if it slowly creeps back, then they need some fluids.
Another way to check, is to lift their top lip and gently press the gum line above their canine with a finger (this will change the gum colour to white). Release the pressure to see how quickly the gum flushes from white back to pink. This is also a good handling technique to train your dog to feel comfortable with.
- Heart check-
Get a baseline for your dog’s normal heart rate, so you can use it as a indicator for signs of distress in your dog. Normal resting heart rate can be between 70 and 120bpm, depending on many factors including, size, fitness, and age. See this link to watch how to find it on your dog’s body. Count for 15 secs and then multiply by 4 to give beats per minute (bpm). Once you have resting heart rate, you can then compare to active times and if your dog is over heated.
Summer swims can increase the chances of hotspots particular in dogs with long, thick or double coats. This is because the outer coat that repels light water will trap moisture when submerged, particularly if there is matting. So, make sure to regularly groom and towel dry your dog after water activities. This will help prevent moisture being trapped under the coat. Warm, moist conditions can increase the chance of bacteria overgrowth. See this link for handy tips to help with these nasty hotspots.
- 5 second rule- if it is hot out, place the palm of your hand on the path and asphalt; if it is too hot to keep your hand there for 5 seconds, it is too hot for your dog.
- Walk your dog early in the day and/or later at night. It is much more pleasant for you and your dog not to be out in the extremes of the day.
- If it is too hot to walk and you want to give your dog some mental stimulation inside where it is cool, do some games and activities. You are only limited by your imagination but ideas include a food scavenger hunt, practicing their obedience skills or teaching a new trick e.g go to your ‘bed’, or ‘high five’.
- Provide a paddling pool in the shade using sandpit clam shells, or turn the sprinkler on for some fun play.
- Safety first! Never leave your dog in a hot car, even for a minute. Cars heat up very quickly and many dogs have tragically lost their lives locked in hot cars.
Think twice about shaving your dogs fur. A dog’s coat can provide insulation from the heat. See more info here.
- Give your dog a frozen treat, such as a food dispensing toy that has some frozen coconut water, or a little yoghurt or kefir in it; a perfect icicle to lick! Frozen berries or beans are also a quick and easy cool down tasty morsel to have on hand.
- Foods can have different thermo effects on the body. So when it is hot consider providing foods with cooling energetics. Examples include turkey, whitefish, duck, rabbit, eggs, spinach, cucumber, broccoli, melons, apple and blueberries. Likewise consider reducing or avoiding warming foods such as chicken, lamb and venison proteins and warming herbs like garlic, cinnamon, and ginger.
Inside cool choices:
A variety of options will keep your dog chilled and happy. Extra choices include providing a damp towel or chill mat to lay on, access to cool tiles such as in the bathroom, or clearing space to lay near a fan or air-conditioning unit.
Enjoy the summer holidays with your dog. Stay safe and stay cool!
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